The eighth day of Sharada Navratri or Durga Puja celebrations is known as Durga Ashtami. It is also known as Maha Ashtami and is one of the most auspicious days according to Hinduism. It falls on bright lunar fortnight Ashtami tithi of Aswina month according to the Hindu calendar. Ashtami marks the eighth day of the festival and on this auspicious day, devotees tend to observe rigorous fast, feast and worship for Goddess Durga who symbolizes strength.
Ashtami will be observed on 23 and 24th October, this year. This year Saptami & Ashtami Overlap on 23 October and Ashtami & Navami Overlap on 24 October, but at different mahurat, which is why we have only nine Navratris in 2020. As per the muhurat, there is no overlapping in the timings of both the days. One muhurat is ending and another is starting,”
Many people who cannot fast on all the nine Navratri days, keep the vrat(fast) on Ashtami.
According to Sources and Hindu Calender
Ashtami Begins on :23 October at 6:57 am
Ashtami Ends on :24 October at 6:58 am
Navami Begins on :24 October at 6:58 am
Navami Ends on :25 October at 7:41 am
The muhurat for Vijayadashami will actually begin at 7:41 am on October 25 and will end at 9 am on October 26, 2020.
This is only because the auspicious days are based on their muhurat and has nothing to do with the 24-hour clock that we usually follow according to astrologers and prophesiers and Pandits
Every region celebrates Durga Ashtami differently. particularly in West Bengal, it is celebrated with huge enthusiasm, passion and fervour. It is also known as Maha Ashtami. This day is also known as Astra Puja, which means worshipping weapons. The ten-armed goddess riding the lion is highly regarded in this part of the country and even the weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped while reciting mantras in a ritual known as Astra Puja. The Ashta Shakti worshipped during Durga Puja are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda. A sacrifice is offered to please the Goddess Durga. Since animal sacrifice has been prohibited in India, a vegetable like a pumpkin is sacrificed on this day.
In north India, the Kanya Pujan is performed during this day. A group of unmarried women and young teenagers (a group of five or seven) are invited to the home to Honor them. The faith behind this tradition is that these young women ( kanyaka ) represent the shakti (energy) of Durga on Earth. The group of girls’ feet is washed with water before they enter the house. The girls are prayed considering them to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. After the rituals, the girls are fed sweets and foods and honoured with small gifts.
In Kerala and in some parts of Karnataka three days: Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami of Sharada Navarathri are celebrated as Sarasvati Puja in which books are worshipped. The books are placed for Puja on the Ashtami day in their own houses, traditional nursery schools, or in temples. On Vijaya Dashami day, the books are ceremoniously taken out for reading and writing after worshipping Sarasvati. Vijaya Dashami day is considered auspicious for initiating the children into writing and reading, which is called Vidyarambham, which introduces young children into the world of knowledge, letters, and the process of learning.
It is believed in some regions, the Goddess Chamunda appeared on this day from the forehead of Mother Durga and annihilated Chanda, Munda, and Rakthabija (the demons who were associates of Mahishasura). The 64 Yoginis and Ashta Shakti or matrikas (the eight ferocious form of Goddess Durga) are worshipped during the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami. The Ashta Sati, also known as Eight Shaktis, are interpreted differently in different regions of India. But ultimately, all the eight goddesses are incarnations of Shakti. They are the same powerful Divine Feminine, representing different energies.
Over the course of the nine days, the different avatars of Goddess Durga are honoured They are Goddess Shailputri (Day 1), Goddess Brahmacharini (Day 2), Goddess Chandraghanta (Day 3), Goddess Kushmanda (Day 4), Goddess Skandamata (Day 5), Goddess Katyayani (Day 6), Goddess Kaalratri (Day 7), Goddess Mahagauri (Day 8), Goddess Siddhidatri ( Day 9 )